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Post numbah 3.  


So, as a quick review of the previous bits:
~ There are loads of kinds of fun.
~ Each has requirements to happen.
~ They often cluster up.
~ They are not all compatible in all forms.

Okay, so, Playstyles! A playstyle is the body of mechanics and techniques a group uses to pursue a particular bundle of good things. Every group playstyle is unique, group playstyles change over time, and a group's playstyle changes to some extent, by definition, when they change games (though they often carry over things they find “core” to their overall meta-style).

A playstyle can be dysfunctional, trying to serve contradictory things - but very few stay that way for long. Either the group falls apart, they drop one of the conflicting pursuits, or they cobble together some solution.


Happily, playstyles also tend to cluster up, forming identifiable types. Some of those clusters have semi-common big heavy names already, like “Narrativism” and “Immersionism” and so on… which I'm going alter slightly before using here, to demarcate them so you can say things like “Your narrative playstyle cluster isn't really Narrativism” if you want to.

Here's a quick list of seven clusters that many individual playstyles fall into one (or more) of. This is not a comprehensive list:


Narrative playstyles focus on providing Kairosis, Expression, and fiction-engaged Kenosis. Sorcerer is an example of a game which drives and supports a group of playstyles in this cluster.

Tactical playstyles focus on the cluster of Ludus, Agon, Fiero, and Venting. D&D 4th edition is a game that drives and supports a group of playstyles in this cluster.

Immersive playstyles focus on character-engaged Kenosis; most immersive playstyles also have features that tie them to some other cluster, but will rarely connect to heavy Ludus or fiction-engaged Kenosis; there's conflict there. Game systems that support this style are ones that the group doesn't need to heavily engage mentally; they are “in the background”.

Improvisational playstyles are high Paida, high Expression, and a grab bag of other things (humour is common but not critical). Baron Munchausen is improvsational-supporting; Theatrix certainly wanted to be.

Classical playstyles (distinct here from traditional, below) have high Alea, Catharsis of the “Wow, we lived” variety, and a toned-down version of the tactical set that's less Ludus-centric. Early D&D dungeon crawls, full of save-or-die and the like, drive classical playstyles.

Traditional playstyles are those that attempt to pile in as many of the good bits as possible, with no absolute focus, and often aim to do so as efficiently as possible. Most traditional games can support styles in this vein.

Affective playstyles aim for, in order, emotional Catharsis, character-engaged Kenosis, and Kairosis. Colloquially, these are supported and driven by indie “feelings and index cards” games.